Entertainment
JM | Jul 30, 2022

Healthy, you say? Why video gaming is more than just a hobby in Jamaica

Shemar-Leslie Louisy

Shemar-Leslie Louisy / Our Today

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The gaming culture, though often stigmatised as bad for the youth, can be a healthy space for personal development, community and competition.

Chad Lambert, a licensed associate clinical psychologist, spoke with Our Today and shared his thoughts on gaming.

He pointed out that while excessive gameplay can be associated with health and mental issues, “video games are not evil or bad by nature.”

Associate clinical psychologist, Chad Lambert. (Photo contributed)

“I think the main misconception I’ve heard about video games is that they generally corrupt the minds of children and they have a direct negative influence on behaviour,” said Lambert.

He explained that other variables to consider before determining if gaming is unhealthy are the type of game, the amount of time being spent playing, and an individual’s reason for playing.

There are positive effects of gaming when done in moderation Lambert continued, saying, “gaming in moderation has benefits that include an improved self-esteem, temporary depression and anxiety relief (mood booster), building of cognitive skills, decision making and reaction times.”

Couple playing video games (Photo: Pinterest.com)

Lambert also pointed out, “repeated excessive gaming can be associated with adverse mental health outcomes such as poor emotional regulation, poor organisational skills and excessive escapism and ignoring basic life needs such as eating and sleeping.”

“If you suspect your child, sibling or peer partakes in excessive gaming, it’s important to address it with curiosity. Sometimes the excessive gaming comes from escapism from another problem the person is having,” advised Lambert.

From Anthony Taylor’s vantage point, games are more than a pastime.

Owner of the Trader’s Shack Gaming in Montego Bay, and a regular host at competitive gaming tournaments, Taylor detailed for Our Today recently what the culture is like.

Trader’s Shack

Addressing the question of whether games are influencing people to be violent, he said the simple answer was ‘no.’

For Taylor, gaming is like art: each person can use it for their own purpose, most do it for fun, or as, an outlet for stress, some use it to unplug from reality and, in more recent times, a viable side hustle or profession.

“I’ve seen them help and build people mentally,” Taylor said.

Jamaicans at Trader’s Shack competing in a local Yu-Gi-Oh! tournament

Rebuking questions around whether video games influence people to be violent, he added: “There is [a sense of] a community and brotherhood that comes from playing games in game rooms and backyards that sometimes lasts a lifetime. That’s a positive impact for sure and, with the ease at which players are able to earn from gaming [through streaming and competing], need I say more?”

What are eSports?

Electronic Sports (eSports) are the competitive video game industry. Video games are played by highly skilled professionals for money and broadcast to an audience for their entertainment.

How popular are eSports in Jamaica?

There is a Jamaica eSports Initiative that is trying to develop eSports in Jamaica. Their website indicates they have been hosting competitions as recently as July 24, 2022, however, when reached out for comment by Our Today they did not respond.

How big are eSports?

Esports are an ever-expanding billion-dollar industry with events that can draw millions of viewers at a time from all over the world. They have even remained minimally affected by the pandemic. Last year, the game Free Fire, attracted 5.4 million online spectators during the “Free Fire World Series 2021” event in Singapore while amidst the pandemic—becoming the largest viewed eSport event ever.

League of Legends tournament crowd + trophy. (Photo: New York Times)

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